NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern shuts down wealth tax again as Green candidate sparks fresh speculation

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has again ruled out introducing a wealth tax after a Green Party candidate sparked fresh speculation it would be a topic of coalition negotiations. 

It comes as National leader Judith Collins continues warning Kiwis against voting Labour because she's convinced it will bow to the Greens in coalition negotiations and agree to introduce a wealth tax - a Green Party policy. 

The Greens want Kiwis with a net worth of more than $1 million to pay 1 percent of their wealth above that threshold to the Government as tax. Those worth more than $2 million would pay out 2 percent as tax. 

Ardern and finance spokesperson Grant Robertson have repeatedly ruled it out, but Collins is still not convinced because Green Party co-leader James Shaw said he would expect it to be part of negotiations. 

The Green Party's Maungakiekie candidate Ricardo Menéndez March - number 10 on the Greens' list - has sparked fresh speculation a wealth tax would be an important part of negotiations between Labour and Greens. 

"The great thing about [Government] negotiations is that it's not up to a single person to 'rule out' a wealth tax, guaranteed minimum income or better protections for our oceans," he said on Twitter. "It's up to the voters whether to give us [the Greens] the mandate to take these issues to the negotiating table."

Collins re-tweeted Menéndez March and suggested his comments prove her intuition. 

"Ricardo is high on the Greens' list," she said. "If they managed to get back this election, you can be certain that a wealth tax would be a bottom line for the Greens. Labour want to do this & the Greens would be the excuse."

But Ardern shut down the Opposition leader's speculation. 

"I have said the same thing on this policy no less than probably 50 times. I have ruled it out," she said on Tuesday. "It is not our policy. What you're seeing from the National Party, frankly, is desperate."

Menéndez March also called National desperate in a re-tweet of Collins - and warned people need to vote Green to ensure wealth reform was carried out.  

"Love me some cheap redbaiting from desperate Nats in the morning," he said. "Only a Party vote for the Greens is a vote for genuinely progressive tax and welfare reform. We can't afford Judith's wealthy mates getting richer while more people continue queuing up at WINZ for food grants."

He added, "Judith Collins is making up that Labour want a wealth tax. They don't. They also don't want to make any further immediate increases to benefits. This is why the Greens need to be at the negotiating table - with a strong vote - so we start ending wealth inequality."

Collins insisted she is not being irresponsible by telling New Zealanders Labour will introduce a wealth tax, because she says Labour cannot be trusted to keep its promises. 

She pointed to failures in Labour's KiwiBuild housing programme, the fees-free study policy not meeting expectations, and plans to build light rail from Auckland CBD to the airport not making it across the line. 

"I think it's very difficult when we look at the track record like KiwiBuild, fees-free, light rail - all these sorts of promises that have been made."

Even if Labour wins a majority at the election on Saturday, Ardern is not ruling out working with the Greens anyway, and Collins thinks that's because Labour wants someone to blame for unpopular policies. 

"If the Greens get over the 5 percent threshold, then Labour will take the Greens with them. Jacinda Ardern's made that very clear - that's what she wants to do. The reason for doing that would be to blame the Greens."

But Labour has also made it very clear that a wealth tax is not on the cards. 

"To be clear: Labour will not be introducing or negotiating a so-called 'wealth tax'. Any suggestion that Labour would pick up other parties' tax plans is wrong," Labour's website says. 

Labour's only tax policy is to introduce a new top tax rate of 39 percent on income earned above $180,000 which is expected to generate $500 million a year.